Read More: Popular Science
It is almost always hot in Phoenix, but today temperatures are expected to peak at 120 degrees fahrenheit, which has prompted some airlines to cancel flights out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The high temperatures alone aren't necessarily the culprit, but the environmental conditions that come with them can stifle attempts to get airborne. Mix in other variables like the type of plane, the length of the runway, and the conditions on the ground, and we're left with a complex situation that will only get worse as global temperatures rise. “It all has to do with air density,” says NOAA Corps Lieutenant Commander Rebecca Waddington, of the Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, Missouri. “The warmer the air is, the less dense it is. That decrease in density has an adverse effect on aircraft engines, to the point where they just don’t perform as well in higher temperatures." She explained that the problem isn't a matter of staying in the air, but rather allowing the engines to produce enough power to achieve the proper take off and landing procedures.